In response to my post The Win-Win Benefits Of Collaborative Professional Service Marketing, Anne Galloway commented:

Never view the competition as the enemy!
A couple of years ago I met someone who I first believed was competition (of course she wasn’t because of our individual skills and experience) – we now run successful workshops together, in addition to our own businesses. It’s great to have someone to bounce ideas off and our workshops are far more dynamic than if we presented them alone. We have since tightened up on our individual niches and focus the workshops more towards these niches so we both get more clients. So collaboration is definitely a win-win.

Gotta love collaborative win-win scenarios like the one Anne helped to create. Thanks for sharing your experience Anne.

I really like the first sentence of her comment. Among the question that it raises for me is ‘who is your competition?’

Everyone Is Your Competition

Realistically, our competition can can include any business from the largest multinational corporation to the neighbor running a yard sale. In one way or another, they are all competing for our attention and income.

Take for example, my experience of partnering with one of the largest Canadian banks as outlined in the post about Collaborative Professional Service Marketing. Each of us in our way was competing for the attention and money of owners of small businesses.

However, by partnering on the book and speaking tour, we were able to help each other better serve a small slice of a common market.

No One Is Your Competition

On the other hand, since each of us is unique, no one provides the same kind of service, the same way that we do. Given this individual distinctiveness, none of us has any competition.

Anne’s experience confirms the distinctiveness of seemingly competing service professionals…and the benefits of collaboration.

As Anne pointed out…Never view the competition as the enemy! Let’s reframe our perception of the competition. Instead of seeing other businesses as chasing the same potential clients as you, try thinking of them as potential allies working together to better attract and serve more clients.

 

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In response to my post, The Win-Win Benefits Of Collaborative Professional Service Marketing, Susan Oakes commented:

“I agree with you Larry about collaboration.

It has many advantages especially when others have additional skills or experience. It is really like working in teams which is normal when you work in marketing in larger companies.”

Good point Susan, I totally agree, especially the last sentence.

Joining A Marketing Team

Referring back to my post about collaborative professional service marketing, in collaborating with TD Bank, I was in effect joining the bank’s marketing team on a temporary basis for a specific purpose. This approach allowed me to add my skills and expertise to the resources of the bank’s marketing team. Acting as a member of the team, I made my own contribution to delivering value added benefits to bank customers.

As it turned out, this was more than a win-win scenario. It was a win-win-win scenario. These wins went to the bank, its customers and me.

Attractive as this example is, it is not the only model for professional service marketing as a team sport. Any other business that does, or could, serve the same clients as you can become part of your marketing team.

Building My Own Marketing Team

In my case, there are a wide range of potential team members such as PR and social media consultants; graphic designer; copywriter; web designer; etc.

As team members, we would help each other with our marketing, each contributing his or her skills and resources, much as I did with the TD Bank marketing team. And to escalate this win-win situation into a win-win-win scenario, we would also use our skills and resources to helping each other’s clients.

To learn how a virtual marketing team can help you win big, check out Marketing Is A Team Sport.

This is a recently revised version of Chapter 9 of my book How To Market Professional Services.

While you are checking out this chapter, think about how you can contribute guest content, much like the section entitled “Why Hire A Marketing Coach?”. I’d be happy to give you the same space and credit that I gave Jaco Grobbelaar for his guest content.

Follow-up blog post >>

Yesterday, I wrote about value for value as a solution to a perplexing marketing problem. In case you missed it, the perplexing problem was needing help with marketing but unable to get the help because of  the temporary situation of cashlessness. If you read the post, you might have found yourself wondering what was behind it.

The previous day in response to LinkedIn message version of the same post, Denise Michaels, Author, ‘Testosterone-Free Marketing‘ replied with this message:

“Smart move. I’ve used bartering a great deal in the past for web design, graphic design and some social media work.”

Thanks Denise.

In response to my post Nova Oldfield asked:

“So are you advocating the good old contra? Or is it more about professional cooperation to leverage each other’s skills?”

Good questions Nola. The answers are yes and yes.

Barter is the exchange of goods or services rather than the use of money.

Contra is the long established business practice of two businesses exchanging goods or services of comparable value instead of paying each other with money. One of my favorite contra relationships was as a lawyer when I had a client who ran a fine restaurant. I ran a tab at the restaurant and offset it against the client’s fees for legal services. That arrangement worked well for each of us.

Strange as it may have seemed, yesterday’s post was not random act of weirdness. It was very purposeful.

First and foremost, it is part of a series of LinkIn messages and blog posts to test some professional service marketing strategies. So far, I’ve tested two strategies and have three more to test. Interesting results so far. I will write about results when I have finished the tests.

In my response to Nova, I explained:

Contra is a good way of helping others who who could do great things but are stuck and frustrated by cash flow situations.

Professional cooperation usually generates some amazing synergy that helps both parties.

And to be honest, part of my rationale is to invite people to think beyond the model as money being the only value that can be exchanged for services.

In my mind, each of these factors is a sound and valid reason for barter-type arrangements.

I also believe that the timing is right to consider alternatives to exchanging money for services.

The more we focus on financial issues, the bigger the role we assign to complex issues like the financial cliff, factors over which we have no control.

On the other hand, the more we focus on doing whatever we can to help our clients, including accepting alternate forms of payment, the more purposeful and satisfied we and our clients will feel.

Personally, I would rather enjoy the synergy of working with like-minded clients than waste time and energy worrying about things I can’t control.

Do you, or some one you know, face the perplexing problem of wanting help with professional service marketing… but lack the cash flow to pay to for the help?

If so, you are not alone. Many outstanding service professionals occasionally face the temporary condition of cashlessness.

Maybe I can help resolve that perplexing marketing problem.

Like all businesses and self-employed professionals, I obviously need cash flow.

However, like all other businesses, I need and what other things as well. What do I need/want?

  • referrals
  • web design & upgrade
  • graphic design for my website
  • e-book design and formatting
  • new smart phone 🙂

With the exception of referrals, I can certainly exchange some of my fee-generated money for these things. But I can also also exchange the value of my coaching service for the value of other people’s goods and services. And that’s exactly what I am prepared to do, for a limited number of service professionals.

If you, or some one you know, believe that with my coaching help, you can attract more and perhaps better clients, I’d like help. And if you are facing the temporary condition of cashlessness, instead of exchanging value of cash, let’s exchange value for value.

If you know service professionals who might be ideal clients for me, in return for my coaching help, you might referral some of these clients to me.

Similarly, if you provide services or goods that I have listed, you could exchange appropriate goods or services in return for coaching help. It’s also possible that you could provide a different product or service that would help make me healthier, wealthier or wiser. That could work too.

The bottom line: temporary cashlessness need not be an obstacle to attracting new clients. I’m quite prepared to exchange value for value. What value can you being to the exchange?

Larry

 

PS:

To learn more about my coaching services, see: Coaching on Demand and Ongoing Coaching.

On Monday, I wrote about clearing the decks as a great start to 2013.

In response, Todd Bonner of MEP Engineering commented:

“Believe it or not, Larry, I have been thinking a great deal about this subject over the past couple of months. Bound up in this discussion is the proverbial “shiny new thing” syndrome that dissipates focus and leaves most initiatives incomplete. I deal with this on a daily basis on personal and business fronts. It seems that creativity and easy distraction do go hand in hand, unfortunately.”

Funny thing happened on the way to developing this post based on Todd’s comment.

When I reread my Monday post, I found myself somewhat puzzled by my own words: “…when one of my new initiatives crashed sooner than expected.” I was at a momentary loss trying to remember what initiative had crashed. This was surprising because I have been blessed with a very good memory.

It was only when I consciously worked through what I did on the weekend that I was able to remember what had crashed. Oh yeah…that idea. It was a spur-of-the-moment kind of thing based on an item that flashed past my eyes on the computer screen.

How important was the idea if I had forgotten about it three days after an incidental mention it? Obviously not a critical element of either my business or marketing planning.

This in turn raises the question of how relevant is the proverbial “shiny new thing” to your ultimate marketing or business success? Obviously some new things help us become healthier, wealthier and/or wiser. But my sense is that most new things are little more than energy-draining distractions.

Which leads to the second part of Todd’s comment:

“My takeaways from the article?

“(1) Follow your lead and focus in on two highest-yield social platforms for B2B while ignoring the 100 other possible platforms, and

“(2) put all remaining effort into developing consistent, authentic and valuable MEP Engineering related blog content to engage potential clients. If that’s all we “get done” in 2013, I believe we will be in good shape.”

Assuming by social platforms, Todd means social media applications such as LinkedIn and Facebook, I couldn’t agree more with his takeaway (1).

For all businesses, including service professionals, social media marketing supplements traditional marketing such as networking, referrals and keeping in touch. Messing around on more than two social media applications will drain a lot of time and energy with virtually no payback.

As for takeaway (2), Todd has nailed the keys to effective blogging: consistent, authentic and valuable.

Ensuring that our blogs meet these three criteria will help ensure that we will be in good shape for 2013.

Thanks Todd…good comment.

As well as being great connectors, social media comments also offer the opportunity to add value to other marketing communications.

Here’s an example of what I mean.

Yesterday, Lindsay Bodkin posted this comment in response to one of my comments on LinkedIn:

“Larry, I think your comments are dead on. What strategy do you suggest when navigating the changing landscape of marketing? How do you track results? What has worked for you and what doesn’t?” (For the discussion, click here)

Good questions Lindsay, thank you.

Since Lindsay’s questions are neither unique nor personal to her, I decided to use them as the basis for a blog post. Ideally, this approach will allow readers of my blog to also benefit from these social media comments.

Question: What strategy do you suggest when navigating the changing landscape of marketing?

Whenever I become aware of something new in marketing, I do some ‘quick and dirty’ research to get a sense of the new development and how it works. This is usually enough to trigger my intuition which gives me a sense of its potential.

For example, when I first heard of Pinterest, I checked it out and intuitively decided that while it certainly has marketing potential, it probably has limited application for professional service marketing. So at that time, I took a pass on Pinterest.

Question: How do you track results?

In most cases I track results informally, relying on my own powers of observation. I prefer to keep things simple.

Again using Pinterest as an example, in monitoring and engaging in online conversations, I would keep an eye out for discussions and comments about Pinterest. From the time of my first introduction to Pinterest, no mentions of it jumped off the screen and caught my attention. This helped confirm my initial intuitive response that Pinterest probably had little if any application to marketing professional services.

But that was then, this is now.

Yesterday, Nathan Yerian submitted a Pinterest-related post to my LinkedIn group, Best Marketing Practices for Service Professionals. In his post, Nathan suggested 6 Ways To Market Your Business on Pinterest.

Yes the universe certainly does operate in mysterious and wonderful ways.

Now, thanks to Nathan’s excellent post, which in turn is the result of my informal monitoring new marketing developments, Pinterest will be incorporated into my continuously updating social media marketing plan.

In this post, my intention was to illustrate how I navigate the changing landscape of marketing.

In upcoming posts I will address how my informal monitoring approach works in tracking marketing results and also Lindsay’s third question.

Stay tuned…more to come.

 

What makes one client appear more important than the others?

Personally, I think all clients are important. If we have taken the time and energy to qualify and accept them as ideal clients, does that not make them important?

For most service professionals, important clients generate lots of fee revenue.

Financial issues aside, losing an ‘important’ client is not always and automatically a bad thing.

Here are 3 good things about losing an ‘important’ client.

1. It’s A Good Wake-Up Call

With a steady flow of income from an ‘important’ client, it’s easy to forget about such things as providing great service for all clients and marketing to attract more and better clients.

Great client service helps generate repeat and referral business from existing clients. And good marketing attracts the kinds of clients that you love to serve.

Nothing emphasizes the importance of focusing on serving existing clients and attracting new ones better than the loss of a high-revenue client.

2. ‘Important’ Clients Are Not Always Ideal Clients

One law firm in which I worked had a mid-sized mortgage lender as a client. This client insisted that its clients, the mortgagors, have the necessary legal work done by our firm. The steady flow of fee revenue ensured all of us that we would receive our pay checks.

But the mortgagors were among the most annoying and obnoxious clients I have ever worked with. With their over-fed sense of entitlement, they were unhappy with everything from having to deal with our law firm to our unwillingness to go to their homes on weekends to look after the legal work.

Nothing pleased them. But as long as the fee revenue continued to flow, the firm eagerly accepted each new client file.

I was happy when I left the security of the steady revenue flow in favor of choosing the clients I wanted to serve.

3. Opportunity To Revise Your Plan For Success

When a high-revenue client leaves, clearly one of our priorities is to replace lost revenue.

What better time to consider new and potentially more profitable revenue sources?

Replacing lost revenue does not mean delivering the same service that produced the lost revenue. Perhaps there are other services that could deliver but have never had the time because of your commitment to the now departed ‘important’ client.

But why stop there? Maybe it’s time to re-evaluate your business plan. It’s possible that the client’s departure is a sign of things to come.

Every cloud has its silver lining.

How would you turn the loss of a high-revenue client into a positive development?